GW2: Theorycrafting DE S/D

Someone posted on the Thief forum asking about a Deadeye S/D build. I have never used nor read about a DE S/D build. I have not given such build a thought so I went ahead and theorycraft about it. Here is the theory build in both PvP and PvE.


These builds are untested and subject to personal playstyle, thus I encourage for this build to be torn down and rebuilt. The aim of this build, as always, is tactical advantage through positioning. I never look at S/D as anything else since all builds are built around Flanking Strike/Larcenous Strike. These build will focus on capitalizing the Deadeye’s capability to re-stealth and damage bonus from Malice to deal a massive critical damage.

The Builds

DE S/D Shadow Flanker – PvP
DE S/D Shadow Flanker – PvE

The Skills

The PvP build will use the typical rune/medallion combination; Pack and Marauder. As for PvE, I want to deal the massive critical damage taking advantage of Hidden Killer. A critical hit with seven stacks of Malice (Maleficent 7) will definitely hurt given that the PvE build has 225% crit damage. So the main target of these builds are to apply movement impairment, stealth, then deal a massive 3 consecutive damage. Withdraw and Roll for Initiative are good defensive skills and these builds have a lot of positioning and movement impairment skills.

The Core Traits

The builds both have CS/Acr/DE since I always want to have an offensive, defensive, and utility trait lines in all of the builds I theorycraft.

Critical Strikes is a very good compliment to S/D because of Twin Fangs and Hidden Killer as if the trait line is made for S/D. I’m still a bit conflicted between Sundering Shade and Practiced Tolerance since they both are good pick for my build. I have proven Practiced Tolerance to be very effective, but I have not tested the potential of Sundering Shade. Since these build will initiate with a Tactical Strike, a 5% damage boost from Vulnerability may or may not be higher than a straight up boost to Ferocity. Since this is just a theory and I have not tested it yet, I will have to place my bet on something I have used in the past, Practiced Tolerance.

Acrobatics ensures that I will not be CC’d (Expeditious Dodger + Don’t Stop), that I have an anti-degen (Pain Response), and also a damage boost to my sword (Swindler’s Equilibrium). Plus I get a free Steal/DE Mark reset on evade which further empowers the Deadeye trait line.

The Deadeye traits

Deadeye trait line has a lot of choices that can work with these builds. Revealed Malice is a given although Iron Sight might be more useful in PvP, however it’s hard to ignore the might and Malice stacks. Also the damage reduction from Iron Sight is not significant anyway since it’s only 15% and does nothing against condition damage. The master traits is a toss-up between Peripheral Vision and Unforgiving. Peripheral Vision is good to have in a team fight or against mobs while Unforgiving is good to have in a 1v1 or in a boss fight. The Steal/DE Mark reset from Swindler’s also favors unforgiving. For the purpose of this theory, Peripheral Vision has a lot more application than Unforgiving.

Finally the Grand Master traits. The value of Maleficent 7 is higher than any other GM traits although it is frustrating at times when having seven Malice doesn’t last longer than it currently is. At a 25 second duration at 3 second Malice regen rate, it would take 21 seconds to get 7 stacks. There’s a potential to speed up the regeneration by wasting 6 Initiatives on Cloak and Dagger and 2 ammo of Shadow Meld. Doing so will grant me a total of 9 seconds discount reaching 7 stacks in just 12 seconds. Each attack will cut the regen time in half potentially reaching 7 stacks of Malice in 10-11 seconds. However, that is a complete waste of resources. Instead, these builds will focus on capitalizing 5 stacks of Malice and Maleficent 7 can get me there really fast. Be Quick or Be Killed is intriguing but it will not work for S/D. BQoBK is best used in an S/P build. Fire for Effect is still trash.

The Combo

These builds has a simple combo; DE Mark -> Stealth -> Tactical Strike -> Flanking Strike -> Larcenous Strike. What happens during this sequence is Tactical Strike will deal a huge amount of critical damage, trigger Revealed Malice, apply daze/blind, Flanking Strike will deal a huge amount of critical damage, apply Fury, and finally Larcenous Strike will deal an insane amount of critical damage. All these damage is thanks to Hidden Killer, actually the whole Critical Strikes trait line. This combo is also easy to repeat thanks to Shadow Meld. Auto-attacking is not a bad idea either since Crippling Strike deals a lot of damage albeit not a critical damage.

The Survivability

Swiftness from dodge and Infiltrator Strike are the best protection against crowd control thanks to Don’t Stop. Feline Grace also compliments S/D whenever it evades an attack giving me more endurance. Endless Stamina ensures that both Vigor and Swiftness last a bit longer. Pain Response ans Shadowstep are also good against condition damage. However the goal of these builds is to dominate the first few seconds of the engagement forcing the target to go on defensive. Of course in PvE, I have to be more cautious than that given that the mobs don’t really care if they live or die. The build differs in runes where PvP uses the Pack and the PvE uses the Wurm and some Valkyrie armor pieces. Hidden Killer in PvE is great a killing a large group of mobs if followed by sword auto-attack. It will cleave and deal critical damage up to 3 targets in range.

Final Thoughts

I tried to add Sundering Shade into the PvP build by switching up the Marauder Rune to Valkyrie. The problem with this approach is it makes a build a one trick pony relying too much on stealth to deal meaningful damage. Using the Marauder gives this build meaningful damage outside stealth. In addition, the amount of vulnerability from Sundering Shade is insignificant due to the fact that it only lasts 5 seconds. Thus it is a better choice to have Practiced Tolerance for the continuous damage boost which compliments Marauder really well.

Author: Enzovic

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